Realities Of Van Living: 4 Weeks Worth Of Fails & Successes

Realities of Van Life: Queensland Driving Through Rainforest

This is the fourth in a series of posts detailing my experiences of van living, whilst I travel Australia. Each week (although this post comes three weeks late!), I publish a post with the previous week’s failures and successes. I’ve committed to this diary for my entire four-month tour of the country. To know when a new post is published (and see how my feelings toward living in a van alter over time), sign up.

Slap me on the wrist. I’ve been a terrible blogger.

What began as a weekly series of van life highs and lows has been sorely neglected as of late. Posting weekly has just proven to be a little more difficult than I originally anticipated. This is partly because of the Wi-Fi situation, though of course, I knew that finding decent Wi-Fi opportunities whilst touring a landscape as vast as Australia would be problematic.

However, I forgot to consider that keeping my laptop charged enough to write and post a blog, as well as do all of the freelance work that actually allows me to continue to travel, would be a challenge in itself. Needless to say, my budget campervan conversion doesn’t include twenty-four-hour electricity or a snazzy solar panel.

That is why this post is four weeks late.

You know what they say though, better late than never! So, I’ll just share the past four weeks worth of adventures, surprises, and challenges right here, right now. Buckle up.

Four weeks ago, I began the journey from the Wet Tropics of Queensland, on Australia’s East Coast, south to where I sit now, in a public library in Brisbane. In that time I have explored:

• Townsville
• Mission Beach
• Cairns
• Atherton Tablelands
• Airlie Beach
• Whitsunday Islands
• Agnes Water and 1770
• Noosa Heads
• Brisbane

The difference between the state of Queensland and the states I have driven through on my way here, Western Australia and Northern Territory, is phenomenal.

Where Western Australia delivers rich orange outback and vibrantly perfect sunsets, Queensland provides thousands of kilometres of lush green rainforest.

In Western Australia, the heat reaches temperatures of forty-degrees and barely drops below thirty-degrees at night, whilst Queensland stays in the low thirties, yet smothers you with humidity levels of as much as one hundred percent.

Queensland is brimming with banana plantations and sugar cane farms that give it a South East Asia feel, plus so many waterfall lookouts and hikes it would take years to conquer them all.

Van living is a little easier on the East Coast too. When the sun falls, a cool breeze picks up and ventilates our beloved Roma, so she’s the perfect temperature when we clamber inside after a day of adventuring. This makes rising early to check out what else the area has to offer much easier than our time in the West, and both Dave and I are noticeably more relaxed and less irritable.

Yep, Queensland is certainly not a place to be sniffed at.

Yet, having said all this, I have to tell you that Western Australia is still highest in my estimations. It may be a little more challenging to travel, but the lack of crowds and traffic, combined with unique landmarks and natural sights, make it a place like no other. If you’re considering touring Australia by campervan yourself, I urge you to include WA in your plans.

Anyway, on to the fun bit; recalling the fails and successes of the previous four weeks…

Van life fails

• Suddenly awoken by a rock wallaby scaling our van at 3am
• Repeatedly finding our vegetables stale thanks to the intense humidity of Queensland
• Discovering rotten carrots have leaked and having to buy a new storage box
• Receiving a driving infringement for failing to stop at a STOP sign, $378 ☹
• Dave leaving his window open and a bird pooping on his seat
• Not realising our roof box was open and having a stranger chase after the van to tell us

Van life successes

• Showering almost every single day (it’s the little things!)
• Finding nature park campsites and witnessing native animals like possums and tree kangaroos
• Having the opportunity to give Roma a deep clean thanks to a friend – no more sweaty sheets!
• Not needing to drive more than a few hours at a time – the touristy destinations have their perks
• Having two groups of people stop to admire our van set up
• Hitting the 10,000 kilometres travelled milestone with no mechanical troubles (touch wood)

I thought after four weeks I’d have more fails and successes to share with you, but maybe this means we’ve finally adjusted to living in a van…

The ultimate highs of van living weeks four, five, six, and seven

Chasing incredible waterfalls in Atherton Tablelands

From Kuranda to Atherton, to Mareeba, and Miila Miila, the Atherton Tablelands is the waterfall capital of Queensland. Just a couple of hours inland from Cairns, driving this area of the country feels almost like touring the English countryside on a warm summer’s day. It’s all rolling hills scattered with sheep and cows, set against a clear blue sky. What makes the area even better though, is the number of stunning hikes to natural waterfalls.

Sailing Whitsundays

Whitsunday Islands sailing to Whitehaven Beach

I won’t delve into too much detail, as I’ve written a separate post about my Whitsunday Islands experience. Let me just tell you that this was the second time I’ve sailed to iconic Whitehaven Beach and snorkelled the Great Barrier Reef around the seventy-four Whitsunday islands, but it was just as breathtaking as the first. Sign up to know when my detailed post about the Whitsunday Islands tour goes live.

So many #campsitecreatures

I’ve seen so many creatures in the past four weeks that I’d never seen before, not even in a zoo. These include platypus, tree kangaroos, possums, exotic peacocks, and rock wallabies. If you follow my Instagram Stories you’ll have seen videos of these guys in their natural habitat – they’re pretty impressive!

Stepping into a fairytale land at Paperbark Forest

Hopping on stepping stones through Paperbark Forest Walk

Paperbark Forest is just a short trail through immensely tall trees that appear to peel like thin layers of curling brown paper, hence the name. When hunting this place down in Agnes Water, I had no idea how incredible it would be. The Paperbark Trees are majestic, leaning ever so slightly overhead and rooted in a base overgrown with bright green shrubs. The trail contains stepping-stones that allow you to hop between the trees… it’s truly like a fairytale land.

Jumping off rocks into the Fairy Pool at Noosa National Park

Noosa Heads Fairy Pool in Noose National Park

The Fairy Pool in Noosa National Park is a sweaty forty-five minute coastal trek and one that I actually took twice because the first time I didn’t have my bikini with me! Look at that photo though, wouldn’t you walk forty-five minutes to jump into an aqua blue pool right next to crashing waves?

Eating all of the food at Brisbane’s Eat Street Market

Eat Street Market Laneway

Greek, Mexican, Portuguese, American, Japanese… if you can name a style of cuisine, you’ll probably find it at Eat Street. Made up of 180 multi-coloured shipping container food stalls touting food for reasonable prices, even by backpacker standards, this is one to experience on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday evening in Brisbane. Again, I’ll be sharing a more detailed post with information and tips for visiting Eat Street in the coming weeks, so sign up if you’re interested.

If I’m honest, there’s a whole bunch of highlights I should probably include above, but you can take these five as the best of the best. For the next week, I’ll be exploring the Gold Coast and then crossing my third state line, into New South Wales. Stay tuned!

Thinking of living in a van, or travelling Australia too? Let me know below and give this post a share so others can find it too.

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The Realities Of Van Living: 4 Weeks Of Fails & Successes

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